This March saw the first 100 days of President Emmerson Mnangagwa – or “ED” as he is referred to in public – in Office, a rather short period to report on compared with the 37 years of his predecessor.
Late Morgan Tsvangirai
But – unfortunately – it also saw the passing of prominent opposition-leader Morgan Tsvangirai. However, we take this first opportunity to tally achievements and failures and to determine an outlook towards the elections in July this year.
By jumping already to part of the conclusion, his 100-day plan of action to stimulate the economy, attract foreign investment, curb corruption and promote human rights has received mixed reviews in the country, kindly summarised by Tendai Marima as follows:
Since Mnangagwa took power, free, state medical care for children and the elderly and a temporary reduction in fuel prices have been introduced. The government has also removed police roadblocks and spot fines for traffic offences, which many see as having a positive effect on society. The proposed establishment of special anti-corruption courts and the arrests of several high-profile figures on allegations of corruption have also been welcomed by the public, but some say more must be done to root out corruption.
Mnangagwa against CorruptionIn his crackdown on corruption, Mnangagwa issued a three-month amnesty in December to return looted money, which resulted in at least US$ 250m out of an estimated US$ 1.3bn of externalised funds, which have been repatriated since the amnesty began. In an effort to re-engage with the world with the aim of reviving Zimbabwe‘s economy, Mnangagwa has cut new deals with Belarus, Russia and China. Unlike Mugabe, who had frosty relations with the West, Mnangagwa has prioritised re-engagement with Western powers.
He also recently commissioned a South African company to supply hundreds of train wagons and locomotives for US$ 400m to the National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ), a struggling, state-owned enterprise once hailed as Southern Africa’s transport beacon. Government efforts to revive industry, which currently operates at less than 50% capacity, have some hoping a better future might be possible.
While a US$ 20m lifeline recently given to the Cold Storage Company shows some sign that one of the country’s largest meat abattoirs could soon operate at full capacity with respective job creation to follow, this is not a single incident, but in a recent video chronicling the successes and challenges of his first 100 days, Mnangagwa reminded people change was not an overnight process.
Zimbabwe ElectionsMnangagwa has promised peaceful and credible elections in July, but the EU maintains Zimbabwe will not receive significant support until meaningful electoral and democratic reforms are made. The US recently extended targeted measures against senior ruling Zanu-PF members and associated companies because they “continue to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat” to US foreign policy, according to a letter issued by President Donald Trump.
Despite the setback, Mnangagwa continues to chant the mantra that Zimbabwe is open for business, and it is up to the first wave of investors with an unbroken appetite for certain levels of risk to actively engage and make the difference the government is preaching.